Thursday 9 November 2023

Veracruz (redux)

 VeraCruz (version 2)

April 21, 1914

 After setting up  and running my original game, I discovered among my notes a much better map of the port. So I have decided to re-set the table and try again, I`ve also added a few changes to the organisations based of a couple of new accounts of the action which I`ve come across since writing the original scenario.


In a direct response to the arrest of nine American sailors by the Mexican authorities in Tampico on April 9th, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the US Navy to blockade the port of Veracruz. But when it became know a German merchantman SS Ypiranga was due to arrive at the port with a cargo of weapons on or around 21st April, Wilson ordered Rear Admiral Fletcher to land troops (marines and naval personnel) to seize the waterfront and prevent those weapons (sales of which were banned) to Huerta`s troops.

The weapons had actually been sourced by John Wesley De Kay, an American financier and businessman with large investments in Mexico, and a Russian arms dealer from Puebla called Leon Rasst and not the German government, as newspapers reported at the time.

Part of the arms shipment to Mexico originated from the Remington Arms Company in the United States. The arms and ammunition were to be shipped to Mexico via Odessa and Hamburg to skirt the American arms embargo. In Hamburg, De Kay added to the shipment. The landing of the arms was blocked at Veracruz, but they were unloaded a few weeks later in Puerto Mexico, a port controlled by Huerta at the time.

So on the morning of April 21st, 502 marines of 2nd Advanced Base Regiment (ABMR from here on) and 285 sailors plus marine detachments from the battleships Florida and Utah under the command of Marine Lt. Col. Wendell C. Neville, landed by whaleboat at the quay side and moved to secure the port.

As planned earlier, American consul William W. Canada notified General Gustavo Maass that Americans were occupying the port and warned him to "cooperate with the naval forces in maintaining order." Maass, however, was not permitted by Mexico City to surrender the port. Maass ordered the Eighteenth Regiment, under the command of General Luis B. Becerril, to distribute rifles to the populace and to the prisoners in "La Galera" military prison, and then all to proceed to the dock area. Maass also ordered the Nineteenth Regiment, under the command of General Francisco A. Figueroa, to take up positions on Pier Number Four. Maass then radioed a dispatch to General Aurelio Blanquet, Minister of War in Mexico City, of the American invasion. Blanquet ordered Maass to not resist, but to retreat to Tejería, six miles inland.

Mexican resistance was sporadic, the untrained civilians had problems obtaining the correct ammunition and lacked any sort of organised command or supply. The released prisoners under the command of Lt. Col. Manuel Contreras did put up some kind of opposition, along with some civilians and the cadets of the Naval Academy under Commodore Manuel Azuela which eventually led to the invaders having 4 dead and 20 wounded before shellfire from US naval vessels brought resistance to an end and a ceasefire being called!

My game tries to recreate the fighting between the US Marines/naval landing parties and Mexicans who either failed to get the withdrawal order or refused and attempted to resist those damned Yanky invaders. Unlike the historic incident I decided to allow some Mexicans to resist the initial landings.

American landing forces

Marine HQ

1st Company, 2nd ABMR

2nd Coy, 2ABMR

Auto weapons platoon, 2ABMR

Cannon section 2ABMR

2.75” Vickers-Maxim + crew

Composite Company of Naval volunteers

3 x 10 man platoons plus a HQ & Hotchkiss MMG

Mexican forces

2 platoons 19th Federal Regiment

Cadets Veracruz Naval Academy

2 x 10 fig groups of armed civilians, plus the odd soldier

Released prisoners plus guards

Scratch platoon and 65mm plus crew from the artillery barracks

Crew of the Sonora

US objectives:

Secure Fiscal Dock/warehouses and Customs House

Naval Academy

Oil storage depot

Special rules

Mexican civilians are treated as poor/militia and suffer -1 on all checks

The cadets are young, enthusiastic and inspired by national pride so gain +1 to morale

The Americans can call for support fire from the USS San Francisco anchored in the harbour (3-inch gun) by heliograph any time

The crew of the Sonora will remain concealed until they get a good chance of surprising the US troops, once fired upon themselves they suffer -1 to morale due to their cowardly nature!. 

The Americans have 20 game turns to capture all three objectives failure to do so is considered a victory for the Mexican defenders (be it a pyric one).

 Game deployment

US forces

Game turn 1

The naval landing company lands at the Fiscal Wharf by ships boat

1st Marine Company plus force HQ arrives by barge at the beach on the right of the harbour

Game turn 6

2nd Company plus the cannon section arrive by barge on the same beach

 Mexican deployment

Dock – ½ a platoon from 19th Regiment plus ½ platoon of militia

Customs House – 1 platoon of 19th Regiment

Oil Depot – ½ platoon of 19th Regiment

Naval Academy – Naval cadets

Artillery Barracks – scratch platoon plus 65mm & crew

The Sonora – 5-man crew

Plaza de Constitucion – 1 + 1/2 platoons of militia

Game turn 10 + 1d3 Released prisoners plus guards arrive along the harbour front road from the left.

My table

Pier 4

Fiscal dock, customs warehouse and customs building

Constitucion Plaza
Hotel Mexico (front), New Hotel Diligencias (across the plaza), Old Hotel Diligencias (right), Old Lighthouse (right infront of the Diligencias)
Parochial Church behind the Naval Academy
Artillery Barracks (left), Naval Academy (right)
New lighthouse with oil depot behind
Building under construction
Oil depot
Father Juan and Sister Ascension

Now this new game layout did mean the US force would meet some resistance (be it minimal) upon landing.

Turn 1 the 1st Marine Company arrives at the beach, whilst the naval landing party arrives at the fiscal dock, the sailors receive some rifle fire from the customs dock buildings.

A general alarm is raised among the Mexican defenders.

Turn 2 The Marines spread out 1st platoon head towards the oil depot, 2nd/3rd platoons towards the Naval Academy. The sailors move along the fiscal dock towards the customs dock and sheds, they continue to receive rifle fire and take some odd casualties.

Turn 3 the Marine advance continues. The sailors take a punishing round of fire from soldiers in the customs dock – 4 dead!!

But they do chase off some dock workers among the customs sheds  

The Naval cadets begin to deploy outside the academy

The Artillery commander organises his men

Turn 4 half the sailors move against the customs dock, whilst the other half start clear the various sheds and out buildings. The USS San Francisco targets the customs dock but misses. The first Mexican cadet platoon engages the marines, a second platoon leaves the academy moving to cover the left flank. The artillery scratch platoon and 65mm leaves the barracks.

 Turn 5 Fighting continues around the customs dock, the San Francisco lands a shell into the building finishing off the Mexican resistance. Elsewhere Sailors are still searching and clearing sheds and warehouses.

The Marines and Cadets exchange fire, both sides take casualties, the second cadet platoon runs into half a marine platoon working its way around that exposed flank – a frantic melee begins!!

 Turn 6 2nd Marine company arrives at the beach

The sailors move to clear the customs dock, only the Mexican officer escapes

Marine 1st company is hotly engaged both by the cadets and the defenders of the oil depot, both side continue to take casualties. The result of the melee is pretty much evens (2 casualties each) but the cadets lose their officer and are forced to make a morale check (which they fail badly), they break and flee back towards the academy!

 Turn 7 the crew of the Sonora open fire on the Marines of 2nd company – a nasty surprise which forces the first platoon to make a morale check and they become pinned!

The sailors are busy securing the customs dock & warehouses.

1st marine company are also unable to advance against accurate cadet rifle fire now supported by a Maxim gun mounted on the academy stable roof. The marines move their Colt “Digger” into position to engage the Maxim.

Turn 8 The San Francisco fires a shell at the Sonora – miss! But now the Sonora`s crew is engaged by both members of 2nd Marine company and 1st marine company who fire upon from the lighthouse.

The sailors occupy the customs dock and warehouses

1st marines are well pinned, this situation is not improved by the arrival of the Mexican artillery scratch platoon and their 65mm which fires off its first round and kills 1st company`s commander!

The two machine guns start firing at one another – both ineffective as the range is quite long.

 Turn 9 Marines from 1st and 2nd companies storm aboard the Sonora, its crew surrender

The machine gun duel continues again with no results, the San Francisco fires at the Maxim on academy wall but misses.

2nd Marines join what`s left of 1st company engaging the cadets and artillery, half of one platoon from 1st company climbs over the fence into the stable in an attempt to outflank the defenders.

Another part of 1st company storms the oil depot.

Turn 10 The machine gun duel again ends in a null draw (terrible dice rolling on both sides), but the San Francisco is bang on and maxim is smashed.

The half platoon from 1st marines surprises the Mexican artillery with a couple of grenades, this combined with some accurate rifle and LMG fire the last couple of turns and the lose of their commander causes a morale check – which the fail badly!! The survivors break and flee into the Naval Academy!

Turn 11 starts with the arrival of the former prison inmates and their guards on the left of the table.

The half platoon from 1st Marines in the stable area moves to block them.

 Outside the Naval Academy a group of cadets and artillerymen find themselves unable to retreat into the academy across a open killing ground covered by two Marine LMG teams, also two marine platoons are advancing upon the academy gate! 

Those cadets who have gotten inside prepare to resist, but the San Francisco has found the range adding to their problems! 

Also the Marine 2.75” gun is setting up to add its fire in support of the assault.

 Over at the customs yard the sailors begin their attack against the Customs House

Turns 12 -14 general fighting right across the width of the table, those cadets outside the academy surrender following a melee on turn 14. The marine Colt MMG kills a few militia snipers off rooves around the Plaza de Constitucion allowing their men to move freely around the academy. The San Francisco and the marine 2.75” gun fire into the academy for a couple of turns,

The former prisoners catch a volley of accurate rifle fire which slows down their advance, some take cover into the Artillery barracks.

 The sailors continue to advance upon the Customs House supported by their Hotchkiss MMG. Both sides take casualties.

 Turn 15 the survivors of the Academy fail their morale and surrender! Marines move into the compound.

One platoon of 2nd Marines along with both LMG teams moves to block the former prisoners

The prisoners are already being swept by accurate rifle fire, so this causes a morale check!

The sailors have reached the customs house walls, their MMG sweeps across the buildings adding to the Mexican casualties, causing yet another morale check!

  Turn 16 The prisoners make their morale check, but a shell from the 2.75” gun causes more casualties plus a couple from rifle and LMG fire means they now have another!

 Marines storm into the academy and capture the building and survivors

The customs house defenders fail their morale check and surrender

Turn 17 the former prisoners blow their morale check and flee back towards the prison where they came…….

 Game over the Americans are in full control of the dock and customs warehouses and all objectives.





  1. So the Americans win (again). Do you think this was because they “wanted it more” or what?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Mostly down to the quality of the troops involved, only a couple of platoons of Mexicans were even regulars from 19th Regiment; the rest were cadets, volunteer civilians or released prisoners from the prison. During the actual event, some of the prisoners just began to loot and get drunk and generally make hay whilst they were free. Also even though weapons were distributed to volunteers, ammunition was hard to come by limiting the effectiveness of any resistance.

  2. Beautiful 'what if' scenario, with great tabletop scenery and your lovely figures! Very inspiring. Carl

  3. Just discovered this. Great AAR. And the rules seem to do history justice too as the US did win.

    1. Thank you, in my games you rarely see history reverse itself.